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63 Comments
  • What a well-written article! Easily understood and the photographs were spot-on. Thank you!

  • Thank you so much for this post, you completely demystified for me why my favourite yarn is my favourite! I’m definitely a 3-ply person all the way!

  • Thank you so much! I found this extremely helpful.

  • Thank you Jillian for such a great explanation of the differences in different plied yarns. Loved your swatch photos!

  • Excellent and informative article – I have added it to my saved articles. You may see me at my LYS how discreetly twisting yarns to count the number of plies

  • Clear and well photographed explanation. Thank you for this article. This knowledge will really help choose my yarns better!

  • It’s amazing how many nagging questions from over the years this has answered for me. Thanks!

  • Thank you so much. I learned a lot. Was always wondering why some yarns just don‘t fit with the pattern I choose (or the other way,round).

  • I love the clarity of this article. Thank you so much.

  • Fascinating article and so clearly written. The author distinguishes so effectively — and memorably- all the qualities of each element and how they work together to create a final effect. Thank you so much. So helpful.

  • Thanks so much for all of that useful information. I always wonder what kind of yarn to use and why yarn behaves differently. Great article!!

  • I had no idea! Thank you for the explanations and photos!

  • Once again, Jillian explains it perfectly. Keep these lessons coming, please!

  • GREAT article!! Thank you for the comprehensive look at ply!

  • This is a great article!! As a sometimes spinner and a retired LYS sales associate, as well as a knitter for many decades, I think that ply and twist are one of the least understood and most important things to know about the yarn we all spend our fortunes on. I would love to see more articles like this.

    • Hope you’ve seen Jillian’s other articles (linked below). Looking forward to learning lots more from Jillian.

  • Really enlightening! Thanks so much.

  • Very interesting and well described. Thank you

  • I’m definitely saving this one. Such a clear, concise explanation. Will try to keep in mind during my next shopping trip.

  • Finally an article that explains ply, with practical examples. Do the yarn labels tell us what we are looking at? I have a feeling my LYS doesn’t want me to pick at their yarn.

    • Nope! Some yarns are labeled as “3 ply” or “4 ply” but this is very old school (I’m thinking of Rowan and Jamiesons). The yarns of today typically say nothing on the label about their construction. We must stay close to Jillian, and examine yarns ourselves to figure it out.

    • When you do see “2-ply” (or 3 or 4) on UK, Australian, or NZ yarns, be careful! There is an older system of yarn weight that also uses these terms with little to no relationship to yarn construction!

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with untwisting an inch of yarn at the end of a ball or skein to examine the plies, but it’s polite to get permission first. If your trusty LYS staff can’t tell you the structure of the yarn they’re selling, and it’s not on the Ravelry page or the manufacturer’s website, ask if you can figure it out for yourself. It’s an entirely reasonable thing to want to know before buying a yarn.

  • What a wonderful explanation of ply and how it affects the finished piece. I like the squishy feel of single-ply yarns, but man, are they difficult to work with sometimes. It’s difficult to find a yarn manufacturer that gets the twist just right in a single-ply.

  • Great article! Thank you for the clear explanation and examples. I learned a lot from this post.

  • This is a terrific review of last night’s meeting of our new knitting guild here in Puddetown (AKA Portland, OR): https://www.puddletownknittersguild.com/guild-meetings.html Chelsea, our speaker, also talked about the ends of the strands spun into yarn; in singles, the ends tend to poke out because there’s no next-door strand twisted around them to keep them in, thus single-ply yarn tends to pill.

  • Thank you. I was just thinking about this recently and there you were with a great blog of information

  • Thank you Jillian for the concise information. This was a great learning tool and one I’ll keep for referencing again.

  • Jillian! thank you! great informative article (hard to do with the written word) and clearly laid out. I have been knitting for decades under the English system of 2 – 3 – 4 ply wool, and knew that related to weight rather than construction. This really clarifies the importance of choosing the correct yarn, not just colour and weight!

  • Great article! I often get questions from students about this, and my knowledge is pretty limited. Nice to have a reference for them.

  • Excellent article! This explains why the bias is prevalent in some of my projects. Who knew! It will help me select the appropriate yarn for projects in the future.

  • Very informative, and such clever, fun writing! Thanks so much!

  • Wow! Thank you so much for dropping this knowledge. I thought I knew the (very) basics, but didn’t think through to the implications when knitting. So glad I subscribe – I learned many useful things today!

  • Extremely well-written article, informative and with a practical approach. Thank you so much! There is always so much to learn…

  • What a beautiful yarn journey. I have learnt so much from this one article and will never look at yarn again without a thought of ply as well as colour and weight.

  • Very interesting & informative article. Was disappointed in examples in some of the photos: each of the 2-color samples used different colors thus making it difficult to tell if the “definition” was d/t the ply or the brighter color.

    • It would certainly be ideal to compare yarns in single, 2-ply and 3-ply that also were dyed in identical colors, but I’m not sure that yarn exists. One could try using greyscale filter on the photo.

  • I feel like I’ve been to knitting college. Thank you.

  • thank you for this insight! much appreciated.

  • this was great, now I will look closer to every knit I see LOL

  • This is the kind of visual learning that I need to understand the delicacies and differences of plies. Thank you so very much! I am an avid yarn-substituter and this adds so much more information than I had before.

  • NOW I get the whole ply thing! Thank you!

  • Excellent, very descriptive article!
    Jillian, so many questions are so much clearer to me and your article
    Will definitely help me choose fiber!

  • Interesting …!!
    I’m about to start the Zweig – a yoke/lace sweater, and my yoke yarn has 4 plys and my body yarn has two. Will I run into problems?

  • Very cool. Great, easily understood, crisp description about yarn behavior and characteristics. Thank you.

  • This is incredible. I honestly have never had anyone discuss ply with me before. now looking back on several projects, color work and lace, I understand why it is important to either stick with the yarn the designer suggested or make sure that the ply matches and not just the weight of the yarn. Wow. My mind is absolutely blown.

  • Excellent tutorial on the whys & wherefores of ply. Never fully understood it & now |I hope it will stand me in good stead for my next project. THANK YOU!!!

  • Thank you! I am fascinated by the effects of ply and I want to try out your experiments with crocheted garments. I wonder if the twists of double and treble crochet stitches will show the texture and bias too. I’ll definitely share your article on my page. Crocheters are hungry for more yarn education, with more and more garment patterns being featured.

  • Really appreciate this tutorial, particularly the behavior of the plies in different applications. Merci, merci!

  • “The ‘patriarchy’ of pilling?”

    And that’s where I stopped reading.

  • What a fab article! Will definitely be bookmarking as a reference. Are all the yarns used in these examples worsted spun? It got me wondering if/how ply and method of spinning play together as well!

  • So helpful! Thank you so much for this.

  • Wonderful informative article, thank you. I’ll be able to make more informed choices for my patterns now.

  • Thank you for this great information, explained so well.

  • Thanks. Explained very well. Glad my friend sent this my way

  • Thank you Jillian for a clear, informative and extremely interesting article!

  • Very interesting and helpful
    Will explore
    Thanks

  • Informative, interesting & well-written. Even this dummy (moi) gets it. Looking forward to her next article about Ply

  • Great info and a fun read! Thanks.

  • Very informative! Thank you! 🙂

  • Such a fantastic article. I will come back to this as a reference again and again. THANK YOU!

  • Thank you! So informative.

  • Love the article, but I hear my fibre arts professor growling at a student who called “singles” a type of “ply.”
    Plyed is the opposite of single.
    Or, as my professor put it, “Once upon a time you were a virgin. Now you’re not. You can’t be both!”

  • Very well written and super informative! Thank you!